Guest Blog: Philip & Gillian Moss came on a four week bespoke adventure through Argentina and Chile. Below they write about their experience.
To the end of the world and back – the title David and staff chose for our trip of a lifetime to Argentina/Chile. Despite having discussed the trip in detail, made some adjustments and received a detailed personalised itinerary in a wonderful glossy picture brochure, little did we really imagine what awaited us.
Our first stop was Puerto Piramides on the Valdes Peninsula. We walked into our room at Las Restingas, situated on the beach, and there, from our balcony, we saw southern right whales out in the bay. Our adventure had really begun. Two trips out on the whaling boats brought us not just sightings but incredibly close encounters with mothers and their calves. Words cannot express the emotions at such an experience.
Puerto Piramides was referred to by some as a one-horse town, with nothing going on. Yes, it was isolated, the electricity may go off, the water may occasionally not heat up (neither happened to us) but you know what, the best time of day was when the day trippers went home and we were left to enjoy the lovely sandy bay – and the whales – all by ourselves!
Onwards to Ushuaia, ‘Fin del Mundo’, a small but wonderfully characterful city – sporting many brightly coloured dwellings of varied constructions, including corrugated iron. A trip to the Harberton Ranch, where Tommy Goodall, great- grandson of Thomas Bridges, still manages the estate, enabled close ups with Magellanic and Gentoo Penguins and a visit to a fascinating maritime museum set up by Natalie Prosser, Tommy’s wife. Cruising round Cape Horn on the Stella Australis brought adventures all of its own – clambering on and off zodiacs to land on remote shores – inc Cape Horn, where the weather changed from pleasant sunshine to snowstorm in the blink of an eye. Standing at the top of Cape Horn – if you could call a stoop ‘standing’, having had to crouch down to avoid being blown off, clothed in several warm layers of clothing and waterproofs, you could only wonder and admire explorers of bygone ages, especially when back on board enjoying the warm comforts of the ship.
After four days we disembarked in Chile where our highlight was a visit to the Torres del Paine National Park. A gloriously sunny day made the scenery clear, crisp and bright. The park itself was pristine, but I guess a 4million pesos fine and jail sentence provides a good incentive to take your rubbish away with you!
Back into Argentina and El Calafate and a tour to the Moreno Glacier – awesome. Standing on the deck of a boat or strolling along the walkways you cannot help but be spellbound by the sheer size, the ice blue coloured streaking or the sudden ‘crack’ and calving as chunks of ice fall into the depths below.
Another sunny day and we are in Bariloche touring the Lake District, one minute reminiscent of Switzerland, next of our own namesake in the UK, yet not ignoring the charm all of its own. An extended stay, due to the airport being unexpectedly ‘snowbound’ for two days, is not to be recommended but was expertly dealt with by SLA and its agents and made what was a difficult situation bearable. Finally away we flew to the Iguazú falls. Our first experience was from the Brazilian side. It was jaw dropping and we were doubtful the Argentinian side could compete the following day. However, with sunshine thrown in there was certainly no disappointment to even consider.
And so to the close of our trip – a five hour bus ride and then four hour car transfer to Estancia Rincon del Socorro in the Iberá wetlands. Going that distance we knew it had to be worth it; and it was. Not surprisingly it was out in the middle of nowhere so you were surrounded by nature in the raw and bird life and wildlife abounded, not only around the estancia but in the extensive surrounding grounds, where we witnessed a snake peeing and lagoons where birds and cayman flourished.
Our accommodation throughout was first class and our ‘alternative’ title for the trip was ‘Rooms with a View’. A phenomenal trip, well organised, managed and ‘executed’. A true masterpiece.
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